Rockingham County jail guard under investigation for smuggling contraband to inmate
BRENTWOOD — A corrections officer is being investigated for allegedly bringing contraband items to an inmate at the Rockingham County jail, according to the sheriff’s department.
Investigators have not yet revealed the identity of the corrections officer, or the forbidden material delivered to the inmate.
The investigation began on May 27 at the request of the county corrections department.
“At this point in the investigation, we are seeing whether there was anyone else involved,” Sheriff’s Major Darin Melanson said on Wednesday. “There was a corrections officer bringing in prohibited articles to at least one inmate.”
Contraband items at the jail include tobacco products, drugs or narcotics, according to Melanson.
No charges have been filed at this point. The officer was relieved on duty and remains suspended.
Melanson said that investigators at the sheriff’s department have been working with the Department of Corrections and the Rockingham County Attorney’s Office on the month-long probe. The investigation is not the first time a Rockingham County corrections officer came under scrutiny for smuggling contraband on behalf of an inmate.
In 2011, a Rockingham County female corrections officer was sentenced to one to two years in state prison for trying to smuggle in what she believed was OxyContin to an inmate that she was having a relationship with, according to prosecutors. The pills were actually placebo as part of a bogus drug transaction set up by sheriff’s deputies.
Revelations about the latest investigation came to light the same week as a longtime jail employee was sentenced to state prison for stealing thousands of dollars through the jail’s payroll system.
Ann Marie Nelson, 55, of Chester was sentenced on Monday to 3 to 6 years in state prison. She pleaded guilty to charges that she stolen roughly $37,000 by padding her husband’s paycheck with overtime he never worked between 2012 and 2013. Nelson’s husband, Keith, worked as a corrections officer, but was not charged. Investigators said he had no knowledge of the thefts.
Ann Marie Nelson had worked at the jail since 1996. County prosecutors noted that oversight of payroll was lax at the jail, and changes have been made since the thefts.